Monday, June 27, 2005


It doesn't say much for their other skills. The problem, of course, is that only desperates are willing to teach mush in undisciplined schools

The state Board of Education on Wednesday dramatically altered the way teachers are licensed by eliminating a basic skills test and replacing it with a more rigorous reading and comprehension exam. The result is that teachers will have to be more literate and proficient in the subjects they teach, but educators who do not teach math will no longer have to pass a math test. "We're trying to make sure every teacher who walks into a classroom knows their content area and is able to communicate well with students and with parents," said Board of Education President Thomas M. Jackson Jr. "You're losing some potentially excellent teachers in humanities because they're falling short in the math, and they haven't had math in some situations since their first year in college or before."

The board also decided that teachers who have not yet passed the new tests can spend only one year in the classroom on a provisional license. Previously, they were given three years. Teachers already holding a Virginia license or those with two years' experience and a license from another state will not be affected by the new requirements.

The No Child Left Behind law, which requires that every teacher be "highly qualified" by 2006, has prompted states to revisit their requirements to teach. So, too, has a national movement to make sure teachers are well versed in their subject areas and not just in educational techniques.

Essentially, the board voted to drop the requirement that all teachers pass the PRAXIS I exam, a skills test that includes reading, writing and math. Instead, they will have to pass a new "literacy and communications skills" exam that will be introduced in January. The new exam is intended to test reading and comprehension skills more rigorously than does the PRAXIS I, which is estimated to assess skills at an eighth- to 10th-grade level. In addition, teachers will still have to pass a higher-level exam in their subject areas.

Kate Walsh, president of the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality, said she pushed for a new literacy test when she testified before a Virginia panel examining licensure requirements. Research has shown that the ability to read and speak effectively is the most reliable predictor of future success in the classroom, she said.

Sixteen other states require teachers to pass the commercially available PRAXIS I, but each state chooses its own passing grade, and for years, Virginia's has been the highest in the nation. As a result, there have been yearly horror stories from beloved teachers who find themselves unlicensed when they could not pass the test after three years.

Rhea Butler, a physical education and health teacher in Alexandria, was almost one of them. In her third year on the job, she took the PRAXIS I and failed the math section by one point. She raced to take the test over and over again before she would lose her position at Francis C. Hammond Middle School. As her anxiety grew, her score dropped. She finally passed on her sixth attempt last summer, just in time to be rehired for this year.

More here


We must pretend that people asre equal even if they are not

Today, San Ysidro Middle School will recognize 516 eighth-graders in a ceremony to promote them to high school, regardless of whether they passed middle school. More than a fourth of them did not. In today's ceremony, 143 students who either flunked classes, didn't earn at least a 2.0 grade-point average, or missed too many days of school will march alongside those who did everything required of them.

Several teachers at the school have protested in staff meetings that students who don't make the grade shouldn't walk in the ceremony. To them, it's a matter of holding students accountable. "If you don't earn it, you stay home," San Ysidro Middle counselor Rosemarie Ponce said. Ponce said she's heard administrators say that all students should be able to walk in today's ceremony because it might be the only graduation ceremony they'll ever have. Such low expectations won't help them earn a diploma four years from now, she said. "We'll never know what they can do unless we raise the bar," Ponce said.

San Ysidro School District board member Paul Randolph agreed. "If you put kids through a ceremony that recognizes and rewards them for attendance, for school performance that is really subpar, what message is that sending them?" he asked.

Principal Carolina Flores agreed that San Ysidro educators need to expect more of their students. The problem is that low expectations are being communicated daily in classrooms, not by universal inclusion in a promotion ceremony, she said. "I see people not really believing in them (students)," Flores said. Part of Flores' rationale in allowing all comers into the ceremony is that they're all being promoted and leaving the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade San Ysidro School District. No teacher at San Ysidro Middle has filed paperwork to hold back a single student.

That isn't unusual. Even in a district as large as San Diego, which in the late 1990s called for an end to social promotion - passing students to the next grade regardless of performance - retentions are relatively rare. In 2003, city schools held back 40 of their 10,253 eighth-graders, although more students were retained in other grades.

Flores said her decision to include everyone is not about excusing students who fail school. It may be, Flores said, that school is failing them. Once San Ysidro Middle students fall behind, their main chances to catch up are two eight-day intersessions during the school year, when other students are on vacation. That's not enough time, Flores said. It's also sometimes the wrong kind of help. A student who's failing math, for example, might get a social studies teacher for two weeks if that's the only teacher who signs on to work intersession. "We have kids that do not meet these requirements who for no fault of their own have not received intervention," Flores said. "Somebody's dropped the ball along the way."

Whether they walk in today's ceremony or not, all 516 students are going to high school next year. And the problem is much worse than the promotion statistics indicate. How many students met promotion criteria and how many walk in the ceremony are irrelevant statistics to Hector Espinoza, principal of San Ysidro High, where today's ceremony will take place. They'll all be his students next year. He just wants to know whether they're ready for ninth grade. He sent a team of teachers out to test middle school students, and they reported back to him that 70 percent of the incoming freshman class at San Ysidro High is not at grade level.

For this year's entering ninth-graders, San Ysidro High will have a small school within a school for struggling freshmen. The students will get extra math and English instruction and won't take an elective class. A team of teachers will concentrate on these ninth-graders to establish solid student-teacher connections.....

Ultimately, Flores said, better teaching at San Ysidro Middle is the way to end social promotion and eliminate dilemmas about who should participate in ceremonies. "There's a lot not happening in the classroom," the principal said. She said she has faced resistance to her policy of demanding that teachers regularly submit lesson plans to her, for instance. Flores is the fourth principal at San Ysidro Middle in five years, and she suspects the holdouts are waiting for her to move on. Flores said an eighth-grader recently asked her if she was going to beat the curse of the one-year principal. "It's been a revolving door and these people have been left on their own for so many years that there's no real accountability here," Flores said.

More here


Post lifted from California Conservative

In an interview with the Contra Costa Times, discussing the topic of ending race-based admissions, UC Berkeley's undergraduate admissions director, Walter Robinson said:

Like Prop. 209 in California, the decision angered college administrators who believed racial considerations were integral to providing student bodies that represented a state's diverse population.

"It was like, `Where were you on 9/11?'" Robinson said of the announcement. "It was the same kind of pain. It cut that deep."

No, Walt. It's not the "same kind of pain" as 9/11, whereby 3,000 Americans lost their lives in the fiery blaze and collapse of WTC. It's not like crashing a commercial airplane to everyone's death. It's not like the horrors of terrorism. It's not like the butchery of civilians, the images of which shall forever be imprinted on the minds of all those who saw it. And New York's skyline will always be a reminder.

Prop. 209 was about ending preferential treatment based on race and gender. Ending reverse discrimination. (The proposition passed with California voters' approval)

Maybe if there'd been an attack and collapse of the ivory tower in which he dwells, Mr. Robinson might understand.


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


No comments: